Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law. (Romans 13:10)
As Paul closes his letter to Titus, he tells him to lead the Cretan churches in living righteously: being obedient to authorities, showing humility and kindness to everyone, ready for generosity wherever needed. This is an incredibly counter-cultural way of life for a Cretan (Crete was known for being a culture of awful people, hence the insult “Cretan”), and Paul knows that this kind of discipleship won’t be easy for Titus to cultivate there, so he explains how to do it. But rather than giving him some convoluted process for manipulation or persuasion, Paul reminds Titus of the Gospel in a short, beautiful poem. He tells Titus to constantly reaffirm this Truth, which will cause them to diligently seek faithfulness to Jesus the Messiah. (Titus 3:1-8)
If you believe Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins and rose again on the third day, congratulations, you’re a disciple! That means you’re called to faithfulness, following the commands Jesus gave us by living in His love for God and others. Being faithful to Christ means living the way He’s taught and shown us to live; it means following His example of a holy and righteous life. Anyone who’s tried this knows it’s ridiculously hard and goes against our nature. How in the world are we supposed to live in such a radical, unnatural way? This is where the beauty of Paul’s apostolic advice to Titus shines. The Gospel is what inspires sinful people to faithful obedience! When we’re constantly reminded of and taught the Gospel, it opens up a space where the Holy Spirit can work in us and through us to transform our hearts; He is allowed to produce faithfulness in us!
What are a couple of specific and practical applications of this? When Jesus is preparing His disciples for His arrest and death, He tells them to pray so they can resist temptation and influence from Satan. He Himself prays earnestly in Gethsemane so He can resist the temptation to tap out of His calling. This is how we stay faithful on the defensive (resisting and standing our ground against the enemy), earnest and consistent communion with our Father! The author of Hebrews encourages his readers to run the race of faithfulness by fixing their eyes, their spiritual attention and focus, on Jesus, the One who initiates and perfects their faith. This is how we’re faithful on the offensive (active ministry and righteous living), by placing our faith and attention on the Author and Perfecter of our faith! (Hebrews 12:1-2)
- As believers and disciples of Christ, He’s called us to faithfully follow Him in righteousness and holiness, something that’s impossible for us to do on our own! The Gospel, the living story of salvation through Jesus because of God’s love and the Spirit’s renewal, is powerful enough to transform us, making faithfulness to the Lord possible! Where do you need the Gospel to transform you so you can be more faithful, offensively or defensively?
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (Titus 3:8)